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4 a.m. Paperback – 26 Aug 2011

33 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Myriad Editions (26 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0956559956
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956559951
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 779,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nina de la Mer is a Scottish writer of contemporary fiction. Her debut novel 4AM, shortlisted for the Writers' Retreat Competition, was published in 2011. In 2012, she received an Arts Council Grant to write her second novel, LAYLA. Telling of seven days in the life of a reluctant lap dancer, the novel was published in February 2014.

MAY 2015 NEWS!

I'm so thrilled that my second novel LAYLA is now a finalist in the People's Book Prize 2015. If you've read the book, and enjoyed it, it would be amazing if you could take a moment to vote for her (and me!). It takes about a minute to register and vote. Thanks so much. http://www.peoplesbookprize.com/finalist.php#fictionFinalists_1138

Product Description

Review

'Set on a British army base and in the anarchic club scene of '90s Hamburg, 4 a.m. tells the story of Cal and Manny, squaddies and diehard ravers, whose individual voices resonate in a sparkling debut novel of friendship, love and betrayal. An anthem for the E generation.' John Niven: 'Mesmerizing. And kind of frightening that a female writer can crawl so far into the male psyche.' --Bookgroup.info

About the Author

Nina de la Mer was born in Scotland and grew up there and in Brighton, where she now lives with her husband and daughter. Her nonfiction book The Modern Maiden's Handbook, a satirical take on the woman's self-help genre, was published in 2007 by Portico. 4 a.m., shortlisted for the West Dean Writer's Retreat Competition, is her first novel.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 Jan. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This novel blew me away. It is a story, narrated in first person, by Cal and Manny, two young squaddies in Germany in the early 1990s. Cal is a Glaswegian; Manny is from Essex. They are in the Catering Corps, have no great military ambitions, and live for the dirty rugs (drugs) they score in Hamburg’s seamy nightclubs. Cal and Manny are best buddies.

As one of the characters explains, 4am is a transitional time. It is no longer still night, but not quite day. It is a time when things change; it is a time when many people who die in their sleep pass away. In the nightclubs, it is the time to decide whether to return home to bed or to stay and party into the new day. In this novel, we meet Cal and Manny at their own, personal 4am – as they transition from boys to men. They discover relationships; make significant life choices; choose sides.

Cal and Manny have very distinctive voices, and address the reader directly. Cal speaks in a Glasgow dialect; Manny is pure Estuary English. They are an odd pair, but are united in their love of the rave culture. The communal living arrangements in the army barracks allow friendships to be formed quickly and with intensity; they also let small matters of resentment build quickly into deeply held enmity.

Cal and Manny both make choices that most readers would not make. They have brash exteriors and seem superficially worthless. But underneath, both are complex characters with deeply held insecurities. Neither has a happy family background and the army represented an escape – the escape now sought in the drugs and clubs. It is interesting to see the fierce loyalty and love that Cal and Manny have for each other and for their closer comrades; loyalty and love that seems to out-muscle their love for their girlfriends.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. William Oxley VINE VOICE on 28 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a well written story of two lads in the army based out in Germany who like to take drugs, and not just a couple for recreation at the weekend either. The story has twists and turns but, for me, is too slow and down beat.

Cal is from Glasgow. When the story is written as Cal then the written word is slanted towards his Scottish twang. Unfortunately this slowed the story down for me as my brain tried to process the translated meaning of the sentence ie "I guess I huvnae tellt yous about Iain yet? He's aulder than the rest of wur crew..." . Not as full on as Trainspotting but nevertheless it has an impact. Manny is the other voice of the story who finds himself turning into a full time druggy which slowing impacts his world and threatens to consumes him. WIthin the backdrop of Hanover what will happen to the two lads as the drugs pulls at their friendship, creates tension with their love lives, and havoc with their army careers.

If you are looking for an alternative story of the power of drugs then this is the story for you and it would probably be awarded a full 5 stars by you. But for me I prefer a more upbeat escapism. Well written and engaging story, but just not for me.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By PL McIlroy on 24 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
4 a.m. is an outstanding first novel where hope and despair dance side by side in a euphoric haze of drugs.

Essex born Manny and Glaswegian Cal are the best of friends who are Army chefs at the Ballingfostel base in Germany in the early 1990s. By day they slave over hot stoves, by night they are slaves to ecstasy and other `dirties' as they search for a sense of acceptance on the sweaty dance floors of Hamburg's rave scene.

The chapters are written in the colloquial style. As Cal would say `it doesnae take yous long tae get intae it'. The language is seamless and absorbing as it draws you deeper into the characters' distorted world view.

Both Manny and Cal speak directly to the reader, putting you in the role of silent confident as each man tries to justify his choices. Who will sink and who will rise as Manny and Cal navigate their way through a minefield of paranoia, betrayal, secrets and lies?

4 a.m. is an original and well executed exploration of how positive and negative mental attitudes can have a profound impact on how well a human being will cope with the ups and downs of life. A remarkable book by an extraordinarily gifted writer, whose research into the psyche of the male persona explodes off every page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. J. Brindle VINE VOICE on 17 April 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is the story of Manny, from Essex and Glaswegian Cal; two army chefs cooking by day and raving, shagging, drinking, eating and getting mad for it at night.

Like many Welsh books in it's style and written in the same harsh dialect popularised by him, 4 a.m is a great piece of writing. It cannot have been easy for a female to have written such strong insights into the male, and drunken/drugged male psyche, but De La Mer has managed it with style and aplomb. Especially outstanding when you consider this is a debut novel.

This is a well written, stifling, crazy in parts book that is most certainly well worth a read, particularly if you're a fan of gritty, warts and all reality. Oh, and rave music.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Les Howard on 17 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
So well written you will forget that this tale of two male hardcore ravers was written by a woman. Nina understands the male psyche only too well, and tells a compelling story of two out of control British army cooks as they slog their way through the day, and party through the night in 90's Germany. The narrative is pure squaddie - no holds barred and full of character. Nina accurately portrays how two working class men from opposite ends of Britain become best friends through the tribulations of military life. To compensate for the monotony of barrack life they escape into the drug-fuelled hardcore rave scene, but it doesn't take long for events to spiral out of control. Dancing, deceit, love, betrayal, sex, drugs, war, salvation, prison and kebabs - it has it all. Only one of them is still standing at the end - but you'll have to read the book to find out!
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